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Locum Tenens Industry Faces New and Not So New Healthcare Staffing Challenges

Jun 12, 2017

The use of locum tenens physicians and advanced practitioners has risen to become the predominant staffing solution for the nation’s ongoing healthcare provider disparity and increased demand for care.

It’s a familiar issue that has persisted for decades now. Healthcare staffing, in recent years, as much as things have changed in many ways, they have also stayed the same. Interestingly, the shortage of healthcare providers continues to be a never-ending disparity between client need and candidate availability.

Here are just a few examples of more current issues now faced by our healthcare system.

Uninsured Population at an All Time Low

According to the most recent annual data from the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics, the non-elderly uninsured rate dropped in 2015 to the lowest it’s been in decades; this can be attributed to the Affordable Care Act. Since millions of American’s achieved healthcare coverage in recent years medical professionals have taken on a surplus resulting in a coverage and access burden.

Even if the newly insured populous successfully navigate the rough federal marketplace to find medical providers that will accept their particular insurance, there will still be the same issue surrounding the finite number of primary care and urgent care physicians available within a certain area; though it must be mentioned here that areas such as primary care and urgent care are already adept at taking advantage of the locum tenens staffing model to solve this new issue.

Mental and Physical Health

Doctors are reporting more occurrences of burnout than ever before, and bringing stories to the forefront about the toll their jobs are having on both their mental and physical health. According to some reports, burnout is reportedly up over 25% in just the last 4 years, with many physicians now reporting occurrences topping 50% in many specialties (MedScape 1/11/17). In 2006, the shortage of healthcare providers was already the topic most covered by industry media, and that trend seems to have manifested even more in recent years. It’s now a mainstream media topic. Some stories communicate the shortage in an old familiar context – the aging baby boomers, or the growing population as a whole. Some stories are in the context of more recent events – such as the Affordable Care Act and even more recently, the conditions and wait times at our V.A. Hospitals.

In 2006, the shortage of healthcare providers was already the topic most covered by industry media, and that trend seems to have manifested even more in recent years. It’s now a mainstream media topic. Some stories communicate the shortage in an old familiar context – the aging baby boomers, or the growing population as a whole. Some stories are in the context of more recent events – such as the Affordable Care Act and even more recently, the conditions and wait times at our V.A. Hospitals.Locum Tenens as a Long-Term Solution

Locum Tenens as a Long-Term Solution

There’s definitely an uptick in the use of locum tenens, and the use of physician extenders such as nurse practitioners and physician assistants. The locum tenens model is designed to directly and quickly address these types of new, more urgent causes of staffing issues in our current healthcare system.
Locum Tenens shouldn’t have to be used as a reactive coverage tool in anticipation of upcoming staffing needs. Rather, the most successful use of locum tenens is often through a more proactive approach to staffing. I believe locum tenens is positioned to combat if not solve any combination of the latest complications involved in healthcare staffing; the shortage of healthcare providers gets more real as it becomes more personal to millions of Americans. So many of my generation are about to make tough decisions on how to care for their elderly parent(s), while still juggling responsibilities as a parent of their own families and children. This is not just an issue impacting physicians; this is an issue impacting the delivery of medical care, which makes this an issue about health, and families, and ultimately humanity. When words such as cancer, retrovirus, disease,

I believe locum tenens is positioned to combat if not solve any combination of the latest complications involved in healthcare staffing; the shortage of healthcare providers gets more real as it becomes more personal to millions of Americans. So many of my generation are about to make tough decisions on how to care for their elderly parent(s), while still juggling responsibilities as a parent of their own families and children. This is not just an issue impacting physicians; this is an issue impacting the delivery of medical care, which makes this an issue about health, and families, and ultimately humanity. When words such as cancer, retrovirus, disease, disorder, and disability are used in conjunction with conversations about our loved ones, and a large enough portion of our population is unable to access the care they need in a timely manner – that may finally be the tipping point. What do you think?

How Locum Tenens can help your hospital - Locums Magazine